Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More About The Supposed Shortage of Developers; Frat House Software Development; & Clothing-Optional Workspaces

The Urbanophile shares my skepticism of the supposed severe shortage of software engineers and web developers:
First, when someone says there’s a shortage of talent and that they can’t find a good programmer, what that shows me is that the market is actually sending a very clear and important signal: your salaries are too low. In New York, I hear that the banks have sucked up all the good coders. Well how did that happen? Maybe they offered a market price. What this tells me is that there isn’t a shortage of developers, just a shortage of developers willing to work for ramen noodle money in a very expensive city.
Here's a harsh bit of reality: if you can't hire people of the caliber you want, perhaps you are being too inflexible, or too cheap.  Some months back, I saw a startup here in Boise which was a very good match for my experience.  They emphasized the importance of having a sense of humor and fitting into their corporate culture...and then they mentioned the Kegerator in the office.

My first reaction was...frat house developing software.  But perhaps that's just the impression that they unintentionally gave.  I replied; the worst that might have happened is an interview where neither of us was very comfortable.  At least it wasn't like the South of Market Street startup that tried to recruit me in San Francisco for a "clothing-optional workspace" job.  (I'm sorry, but how many software developers would you want to see naked in the office?  Not me, and not many with whom I have ever worked.)

My second thought, since this is Idaho, is that advertising a Kegerator might have been a subtle way to tell Mormons that this was not the company for them.  Of course, it would likely prevent any strict Muslim, or any teetotaling evangelical Christian from applying.  It would certainly be a discouragement for evangelical Christians like myself who have no religious objection to alcohol, but look slightly askance on a place that has chosen to make alcohol such a core part of their development environment.  (Besides: everyone knows that CAFFEINE is supposed to be the core of your software development!)

Whatever.  I do know that all the whining about a shortage of developers is absurd.  I work for a government agency that pays like it is 1980.  We are managing to hire developers at pay rates that even H-1B visa applicants might have turned their noses up at a few years ago.  Pretty clearly, this shortage is only in the minds of employers that want to pay $80,000 a year in big cities...and are surprised that no one is jumping at the chance to default on their house mortgages for a job that will require them to live in a crummy apartment.  And then these employers expect the government to allow H-1B visa applicants to come in and help employers drive down wage rates?

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